A Kick Up the Eighties

A Kick Up the Eighties was a 1981–1984 BBC 2 comedy sketch show starring Robbie Coltrane (Series 2), Tracey Ullman, Richard Stilgoe (Series 1), Miriam Margolyes, Rik Mayall, Ron Bain and Roger Sloman.[1][2]

A Kick Up the Eighties
A Kick Up the Eighties.jpg
Opening 1981 title card
StarringRobbie Coltrane
Tracey Ullman
Richard Stilgoe
Miriam Margolyes
Rik Mayall
Ron Bain
Roger Sloman
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series2
No. of episodes10
Running time30 minutes.
Production companyBBC Scotland
Original networkBBC2
Original release21 September 1981 (1981-09-21) –
24 January 1984 (1984-01-24)

The show was created by Tom Gutteridge (producer/director) and Sean Hardie (executive producer).[2] Colin Gilbert was script editor. Series One, comprising six shows, was broadcast on BBC2 from 21 September 1981 to 26 October 1981. Series Two, comprising four shows, was broadcast on BBC2 between 3 January 1984 and 24 January 1984. A contemporary sketch show with a nod to the then emerging wave of alternative comedy, a strong team combined to perform short sketches and various musical parodies.

The show was the first break into television for Rik Mayall,[3] who played an over-excited, anorak-wearing investigative reporter Kevin Turvey. To maintain the illusion that his character was real, Mayall's name did not appear in the closing credits whereas Kevin Turvey's did.[4] The show was also the start of Tracey Ullman's television comedy career.[5] Peter Capaldi, a trained graphic artist from Scotland, contributed to designing the show's opening sequence prior to launching his own career as an actor.[6] The first series won a Scottish BAFTA for Best Entertainment Programme in 1982.

For the second series, Colin Gilbert was brought in as producer, his debut TV production with the newly formed BBC Scotland Comedy Unit. Richard Stilgoe had left the show and Robbie Coltrane took his place.[7] This second series was more slick and competent than the first, and Coltrane was praised for his vocal range, powerful delivery and natural acting technique.[2]

A compilation episode was broadcast on 31 December 1987, entitled "A Kick Up The Bells". On 31 December 1998 BBC2 screened "A Kick Up The Archive", a further highlights compilation.[8]


  1. ^ "A Kick up the Eighties[21/09/81] (1981)". BFI.
  2. ^ a b c "BBC - Comedy Guide - A Kick Up The Eighties". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 21 December 2004. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Obituary: Rik Mayall". BBC. 9 June 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  4. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Kick Up the Eighties, A (1981, 1984)". screenonline.org.uk.
  5. ^ "How US comedy star Tracey Ullman came home to the BBC". Radio Times.
  6. ^ "A Kick Up The Eighties". 1 January 2017.
  7. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Coltrane, Robbie (1950-) Biography". screenonline.org.uk.
  8. ^ "A Kick Up the Archive". 31 December 1998. p. 156 – via BBC Genome.

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